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Customer Engagement customer experience

Why Customers (Don’t) Choose You!

Why Customers (Don’t) Choose You!

I recently supported the Awards International CX Awards as a judge for the second time. It’s great to see the ongoing focus on customer experience of the entrants and seeing some of their reactions to Covid impacts. Some of them however stood out more. Those that have truly brought their employees with them and created solutions together.

Recent months have affected us all in different ways from both a business and personal perspective. Habits have changed. I’m shopping more locally but also thinking more about what I need and what I don’t and more consciously trying to keep in touch with friends and family as it’s easy to lose that when there are no gatherings. I for one miss that interaction.

So let’s put this into customer thinking….

Are you in touch with your customers?

Ask yourself the following (honestly):

  • Are you keeping in touch with your customers?
  • In a way that they want you to?
  • About the things they want from you?
  • Are you making it easy for them to get in touch?
  • Ae you monitoring their needs and expectations?
  • Are you considering emotions – how your interaction makes them feel? (Don’t forget this as it’s a key element to engagement)

Or

  • When they contact, is Covid being used as an excuse for long wait times or lower levels of service?

Are there things you instantly think you could do better now you think about it?

Can your own experiences shape your approach to customers?

This is something I feel is a great way to drive improvement. I often think about what I like / don’t about the service I receive and how I would support the improvement given the opportunity…..

Here are some examples of my recent experiences:

  • Car service booking – long wait time to answer with a Covid message being played (many times!) to justify the holding. I sat there thinking – is there a staffing issues, are they trying to save costs, are there really many more calls etc and of course – I could be doing something better!
  • Delivery due between 3&5pm. Changed on the day to between 1&3. That’s fine. Never arrived or attempted & received an email that I’m not in (I was sat in the window!!) and then tracking stated there was a problem (really!!). I then had to contact the retailer – who would accept my query 7 days after the product was due. Trying to find contact details was equally frustrating – anyone would think they did not want me to complain!!!
  • Telecomms company – received an email regarding my package a couple of weeks before renewal. Sent messages prior to renewal date for more information and followed up twice – still no response weeks on!!! If I knew others were better, I would have moved. I have contacted them to offer support!

I don’t know about you, but with some many things on the go – isolation, home schooling, work, entertaining children – I want other things to be easy.

How fast are expectations changing?

So are my expectations greater now than in the past – yes. The leaders in service set our expectations and we expect others to follow – across all sectors.

I’m not asking for same day delivery – I’m asking for the product I want, to be right, to be delivered on time. Or for a services – for my contact response time to be minimal and my query answered first time ideally. That’s not a lot to ask.

Expectations are changing as fast as the leaders are driving them. You only have to look at Amazon this year, accounting for around 47% of retail sales I believe. It’s not the cheapest anymore, but it’s simple, convenient and reliable.

If you’re not doing the basics well, you won’t be chosen.

People don’t want to spend more time than they have to – if it takes too long, they won’t come back – unless they have to. But once they don’t, they will leave.

Meeting or exceeding expectations is the way to retain. So now for the great things I’ve seen over recent weeks – I’ve spent much more time remembering these (key point!)

  • Co-op App – I received a leaflet to ask me to sign up. It was quick and easy and I receive weekly offers to choose from (relevant to me) so I now make savings most time I shop. The other thing I love is that I am reminded to choose a local charity that I will support by shopping at the Co-op. The charity changes and this week I needed to choose again. I feel that shopping locally is helping others locally too.
  • Local Retailers – In my local town, a number of stores have taken to thanking you for shopping with them, every time you visit. Again building your engagement with them. Linked to this I ordered some personalised notebooks for a gift and received a personalised message on the box and inside thanking me also. Nice touch!

So what can we learn from our own experiences?

  • I feel it is the recognition of brands of what we are going through, of being nice, of saying thank you, you’re making a difference of making it easier. We can all do this in some way.
  • Know your customers and their needs and follow their experience with you and think about what you know could be better and make it happen.

I could go on – but I think you get the idea.

Think outside in….

  • follow the journey your customers do, use your own experience to improve theirs
  • find their needs and their frustrations (colleagues can help here),
  • fix what you can now
  • plan for the rest

and you’ll be on the right track

Beverley Stag - Custerian Outcome Creation Specialist www.custerian.com

Categories
Customer Engagement customer experience

Purpose is the New Digital in Retail

We all need Organic Mango’s from Finca Los Pepones!

Purpose is the new digital in Retail

We all shop and spend our hard-earned cash, so everyone can relate to this, so thanks for opening and having a look, I thought I would share my thoughts on:

  • the changes in consumer behaviours
  • the trends for 2020 and beyond
  • my views on these, and why they matter
  • 5 things to add to your basket

Lounge suits are the new business dress, our lounges are for lunges J

2020 has seen a step change in consumer behaviours, due to convenience or really not having a choice due to restrictions, whether that be food shopping, clothes shopping or choosing a new car.  For some, spending has reduced or been paused due to worries about what the future holds.

For others the last few months has been a time to change: in wardrobes – more ‘comfy’ clothes as we spend our lives on video conferences; new cushions, or adding a few more pictures to make the house look nicer – as we are sick of staring at the same ones every day; and gardens which have been our staycations to replace vacations.  

There are various predictions about what 2020 will look like post the retail peak, with suggestions that the whole of UK retail will be down 4.6% versus 2019, and it will take to 2022 (for most) to recover to 2019 levels.  I am sure this will be a similar picture around the world.  Online has increased (no surprise there) by circa 17%.  

There’s no going back – this shift in our spending and our behaviours won’t revert

It’s become our new norms, some wish it would all go away so we can go back how it was at the start of the year, it won’t, but what is changing is our expectations.  We have experienced those brands that have really stepped up to the mark and given us great shopping experiences, our tolerance is now very low for ‘out of stocks’, ‘poor delivery’, ‘dreadful customer service’– businesses have had enough time to shift the dial, and in fact in the main, it’s the ones that were far behind the curve pre Covid that appear to have gotten worse and still using Covid as the reason for poor standards. 

Quite simply consumers won’t and don’t need to put up, as there is a vast array of choices and brands fighting for our money and I am sure like me, many consumers are really thinking about who and where they are spending the cash and the value it brings.

So what are the shifts? The re-inventions of retail?

According to the recent report published by Deloitte they refer to 3 trends:

  • Sustainability is the new paradigm shift
  • Re-invention of retail
  • Purpose is the new digital

Here’s the link if you want to read more on their report: Deloitte

KMPG has also shared their views and research too with 4 trends which are:

  • Business Models will evolve
  • Purpose to the forefront
  • Rethink the cost of doing business
  • Customer Choice is changing

Here’s the link if you want to read more on their report: KMPG

So, some similar themes between the two reports. 

It’s interesting, as I have reflected on an event that we chaired with a number of retailers over 6 years ago at Fortnum and Masons in London. A fantastic graphic artist sketched some the themes that came out of this – it feels a little bit sometimes like groundhog day, as some of the same themes, issues, trends are still being discussed today – and we can say this, as myself and my co-founder have come from many years working in retail and we have continued to work with many retailers over the last few years.

Retail Customer Experience

Emotionless Brands are simply products/services. This has always been the case, but it is now more important than ever.

So my 5 key things to add to your basket

  1. Everything has a Purpose – work out what yours is and see if that is what you want it to be
  2. Brand without emotion – is a product or service that adds no value to people – so how can you add more emotion?
  3. Think of digital in terms of how it can enable your purpose to reach to people who want it most
  4. Colleagues who deal with your customers (store, contact centres, delivery colleagues) understand most what’s not working, where investment needs to be made – so Listen to them, involve them in designing the changes
  5. Retail isn’t dead – it’s just the Old ways are, big adjustments (fast) matter

I hope you enjoyed this post, to read more go to www.custerian.com  – A company founded and run by practitioners to get (the right) stuff done using the experience gained operating at board level in large UK retail, distance shopping, financial services, logistics and service organisations, covering all aspects of the ‘C’ suite remit, from brand /proposition creation, to service model creation/development & operational delivery.

Emotionless Brands are simply products/services. This has always been the case, but it is now more important than ever.


So my 5 key things to add to your basket

  1. Everything has a Purpose – work out what yours is and see if that is what you want it to be
  2. Brand without emotion – is a product or service that adds no value to people – so how can you add more emotion?
  3. Think of digital in terms of how it can enable your purpose to reach to people who want it most
  4. Colleagues who deal with your customers (store, contact centres, delivery colleagues) understand most what’s not working, where investment needs to be made – so Listen to them, involve them in designing the changes
  5. Retail isn’t dead – it’s just the Old ways are, big adjustments (fast) matter

I hope you enjoyed this post, to read more go to www.custerian.com  – A company founded and run by practitioners to get (the right) stuff done using the experience gained operating at board level in large UK retail, distance shopping, financial services, logistics and service organisations, covering all aspects of the ‘C’ suite remit, from brand /proposition creation, to service model creation/development & operational delivery.

Nicola Collister

Nicola Collister – Co Founder of Custerian. Passionate about getting the right stuff done, through practical strategies and outcomes for the good of customers, colleagues and business. Creating alignment between purpose and outcomes through people. From a travel clerk to executive positions in FTSE 100 businesses. Now working with businesses who want to Transform for Good. www.custerian.com

Categories
Customer Engagement customer experience

Successfully engage customers and realise 50% higher productivity

Successfully engage customers and realise 50% higher productivity

Successfully engage customers and realise 50% higher productivity

I’m hearing lots about customer expectations & how they’re changing. According to a recent report, companies that successfully engage their B2B customers realise 63% lower customer attrition. They also achieve a 55% higher share of wallet, and 50% higher productivity.*

*https://medium.com/@OutgrowCo/customer-engagement-statistics-in-2020-547e41c70c74

So how do you align operations to changing customer expectations? In this article I consider:

  • Why expectations are changing
  • How this could impact / what you should think about
  • How your operations may need to change
  • What you should measure to get to the right priorities

Customer Expectations are increasing

An ever-growing challenge that isn’t going to subside, is that we are always switched on & connected. At least 60% of UK adults use more than 2 devices with 87% of us using a smartphone*. We therefore have much easier access to organisations if things go wrong.

Equally, new and emerging consumer technologies continue to become a core part of our lives (I sit here typing this on my Mac with phone and laptop close by & iPad downstairs. They are accessible to all ages for a variety of different needs and are easy to use, with great product design (that isn’t just apple products, a lot of consumer electronics now meet this human need).

Along with next day delivery, (now even same day delivery), for virtually anything becoming part of our shopping habits, are we just becoming intolerant of poor product and service design?

What is a day in the life of an ever-typical customer – more so now…

So if we can check our smart phone 350 times a day, find out ‘near time’ information about: what our friends ate for dinner; how a family members birthday celebration went (as we couldn’t attend); and what a random person we met at a conference a while ago thinks about everything. We can at the same time: book our holidays / staycations from our phones; order dinner to be delivered from a local restaurant; purchase an electronic item through ‘click and collect’ for collection at a supermarket; and download a book that other people highly recommended. All whilst travelling if you need to!

Is this becoming more typical of your customers too?

We are now even more used to online shopping / apps since that has been our main way to purchase over recent weeks / months –  is it any wonder that our service expectations are increasing?

We no longer tolerate stuff that’s not personal or relevant. We get far too many e-mails that we’re quick to hit the “Delete” button or even unsubscribe if we can be bothered to go through that process. So how do we almost stop that deleting or ignoring of things and make it feel real for customers?

We naturally work across multiple channels. I find myself watching TV whilst texting and doing a little bit of retail therapy on my iPad. We are fast becoming anytime, anyplace, anything. How do we deliver that ‘martini service’ for all our customers out there?

We know far more about customers, they are quite willing in most cases to give us information about themselves, you can determine more a more about their persona from their social media footprint. Tailoring services or messages based on this drives engagement. 

So how does this impact how you operate?

The aim for organisations should be to maximise revenue through engaged colleagues and customers. In order to achieve this, we need to understand them. If we do this, we can align what we do best with what customers want most through our people.

Once you know what customers and colleagues want and the issues they face, you can work to improve your processes and ways of working and importantly, measure your effectiveness. It isn’t just about what you do, it’s how you do it.

Finally, you should look at how technology can make it easier for colleagues and customers to deliver and receive the service. There is still a relatively low level of digital automation being used and so cost benefits are not being fully realised.

What does the research say?

[ADD IMAGE – CONTACT BABEL FRONT COVER]

The mean cost per inbound transaction by channel was shown to be: Phone (£4.53); Email (£3.89); Web chat (£3.39); Social Media (£3.18). For emails, it is therefore the case that if the query is not answered satisfactorily within a single response, the time and cost associated with multiple replies and possibly phone calls is soon greater than if the customer had simply called in the first instance.**

We can see that customers want to use different channels at different times and after all, we are all different – you won’t win by driving customers to one cheaper channel.

There can be strong patterns for contact based on age, but it does also depend on the nature of the contact, whether emotional, urgent or complex. Urgent queries will for example drive self-serve attempts – to get an answer quickly. For a product which customers really wanted to receive and had been delivered but was incorrect, the most popular option was to email the organisation (46%), with the second most popular (19%), was phoning the contact centre.**

What should you measure?

Based on research and experience, you need to measure use of channels based on contact types, look at time to achieve an outcome, also did all the people who started a process in a certain channel complete it?  If not, why? If they are dropping out or aborting, where and why – have you tried this process yourself, have your customer service colleagues tried it, as an internal test?  and look for opportunities to improve efficiency and effectiveness of how you serve customers.  There may one or two channels that would be better for a customer to use and it may mean you really do need to speak with them. 

Depending on your organisation this may involve a whole scale change to your operating model, or a focus on the areas of the business where customers are served.

A final thought…

As the green cross code used to say:

STOP – take a pause & think about your purpose and how you’re doing in delivering it

LOOK – at your measures and what they’re saying

LISTEN – to your customers and colleagues (outside in and inside out)

Then start your planning to achieve an effective, seamless service that works for all your people.

 

Beverley Stag

Custerian Outcome Creation Specialist

 

*Statista, March 2020

** Contact Babel: The Inner Circle Guide to Contact Centre Remote Working Solutions, 2020

By Beverley Stagg - Outcome Creation Specialist www.custerian.com

Categories
Customer Engagement customer experience

Customer Experience or Customer Engagement – what’s the difference and how do you truly engage?

Customer Experience or Customer Engagement – what’s the difference and how do you truly engage?

Customer experience is traditionally focussed on flexing what you do to meet customer expectations. Achieving a great customer experience and maintaining it, needs ongoing focus and visibility of:

  • Strong employee engagement with customer vision & strategy embedded into the DNA of the company
  • Multi-channel consistency
  • Always ‘Easy’ to do business with (for the customer and colleagues)
  • Fixes customers’ mistakes easily, often proactively
  • Continuous improvement culture with closed feedback loops, always looking to improve
  • Brand promise delivered every time
  • Wow moments where relevant

Customer engagement, which Custerian have been talking about for years, is about matching what you do best to what a customer wants most. Matching purpose with outcomes.

We actually talk about People Engagement, people being customers, colleagues, suppliers.

People engagement starts with a clear business purpose that everything can be aligned to. You need to have a strong view of what your purpose is, and this is something many companies struggle with. Customer experience focusses on the outcomes – process and priorities.

You need to create this alignment between purpose and outcomes through people.

  • People – they need to understand the purpose and how they can contribute in a way that allows them to feel good/great.
  • Proposition – why should people deal with you rather than another organisation?
  • Process – do you work as efficiently and effectively as possible to deliver what you do best to your customers?
  • Priorities – do you relentlessly focus on creating a great experience for customers and colleagues?

Colleagues play a massive part in customer engagement. More companies are starting to recognise this and are thinking about ways in which they can drive further engagement here.

Here are some tips to start you thinking about colleague engagement:

  • Clarity – this is about translating the purpose so that it makes sense to everyone in the organisation – this may be done through your strategy, plans, values etc.
  • Relevance – build the level of trust through regular communication, consistently re-enforcing messages.
  • Value – showing the value of your colleagues – gaining opinions and developing your organisation through them.
  • Meaning – this goes beyond your organisation – many people want to give back through communities and create relationships with customers in a different way – this makes people feel good – about themselves and their organisation.

So, let’s get onto what customers want in order to create that alignment and in turn, engage them. People just want to know something and want life to be more simple, life is too much in the fast lane.

In recent dealings with customers, they were very clear. In a service delivery organisation where things do go wrong for customers (and they expect it can happen), then they ideally want to be contacted pro-actively but if not, want it to be easy to make contact in a way that suits them, and then they want their expectations managed. Do what you say, and they will be happy with that. If you actually go above and beyond, such as the pro-active contact, then they will recommend you to others.

We heard some other great examples of brands that were achieving this engagement by offering discounts automatically based on spend (that weren’t expected) or by their amazing returns/exchange policies. These companies now have loyal customers.

So, we have brands/organisations telling us about their products and services and we have customers that want a need to be met easily, through their channel of choice. So, what brings the two together? Data!

We have more data than ever before, and brands use this to their advantage. GDPR regulations have, however, thrown a spanner in the works somewhat – we as customers, now have more control over our personal information and can ask for our data to be removed! We’re all so quick to remove Apps that we haven’t used in a while or unsubscribe from annoying communications.

A lot of businesses really don’t know their customers habits. Have you thought about personas for your company and how these could help to drive your strategy? Get your colleagues involved in creating them – it’s a fun thing to do and really gets you thinking about how you need to treat people differently. Knowing your customers allows you to prioritise developments – where to automate and reduce customer effort. As customers we’re becoming increasing capable of serving ourselves – if this is an option for us to use (and we want to) and then it’s quick and easy, we’re happy. One point here – we do need to be reassured that our transaction has been successful!

Technology is moving fast, and we need to stay close and use the developments to our advantage. Adobe released survey data in July 2019 that found 48% of consumers are using voice for general web searches. With 87% of people in the UK using a smart phone*, we need to consider such growth in our contact strategies as our expectations as customers are increasing and quickly.

Hopefully I’ve got you thinking… as we look forward, what are the things you need to plan for and do to operate more effectively and really engage customers? Now is the time to start the planning and then perhaps this time next year any impacts of Christmas, winter or any peak season won’t quite hit as hard and more customers will be raving about your organisation!

*Statista, March 20202

By Beverley Stagg - Outcome Creation Specialist www.custerian.com